Examples of Orcish "Honor"?

Argent Dawn
We all hear and/or talk a lot about how the Horde is all about strength and honor at it's core, especially when it comes the the orcs. I saw someone over on the US story forum argue that orcs have always held onto their honor even if it meant their lives. This may sound right and appealing at face value, and I'm not denying it is at least intended to be part of the core identity of the orcs and the Horde. But is this really the case?

Now honor is to me a very vague and arbitrary concept, and defining it may be part of the discussion. Is it to do what is morally good? Is it to follow the rule of law, a code, or an oath no matter the circumstances? Or is it to uphold your personal pride and integrity?

So, where do we actually see examples of members of the Horde (and specifically orcs) putting honor above all else, even if it doesn't benefit them or even leads to their death?

Ironically the first thing that comes to my mind is Garrosh Hellscream executing Overlord Grom'kar for having killed civilan night elves. Are there other examples in World of Warcraft?
yeah to Saurfang it is honorable to sacrifice your troops en masse just so he can give the enemy faction leader a shot at deposing a warchief he hates. It is also honorable to plot with your enemy while the horde is being torn apart internally, doing nothing.

Instead of challenging her to mak'gora at the shores of Darkshore right then and there and be done with it.

Guess honor's whatever you choose it to be, lol
It means charging in without a plan and dying needlessly, but as long as you yell "For the Horde" at the top of your lungs you're honorable
Uh, Saurfang sparing Malfurion at Darkshore, off the top of my head.
03/11/2018 11:37Posted by Aviviene
Uh, Saurfang sparing Malfurion at Darkshore, off the top of my head.


TFW assasin trying to take him out with a disguise is honorable, but helping your warchief in a fight (not a duel) is dishonorable.

They really made the best effort to write Saurfang as a senile old !@#$.
Honor is not attacking a main 'city' or whatever of your years-old enemy and taking it down.

Of course, when they do it to you it's perfectly fine. But then it's dishonorable if you dare to defend your own city.

So basically honor is anything a popular character does and dishonor is anything an unpopular character does

Hope that helped
No one ever describe themselves as "we are a shifty, cruel and opportunistic bunch of gits".

I, on the other hand, only live to defend the weak and the innocent, uphold The Three Virtues and sell cookies for Stormwind Orphanage.
Honour was not butchering every last human in Theramore after they sided with Daelin.

I guess.

It did bite them in the !@#$ later but then they got even.
In the book Lord of the Clans, Thrall was taken to where the free Warsong clan had made their hideout in a time when most of the orcs were in the internment camps. He was initially met with mistrust and was to prove himself if he wanted to speak with their leader, Grommash. A few Warsong orcs challenged Thrall to prove himself by killing a human child they had captured. Thrall refused.

Now, Thrall was raised by humans, but then Grommash stepped out and also sided with Thrall, asking him how he had learnt about the concept of mercy, and in the end told one of his clan members to return the child where they had found it - stressing to him that he would find out if the child came to harm.

In my opinion it's also a good example that not all orcs share(d) similar views regarding honor either.

“You know what this is,” said Iskar.

“A child. A human child,” Thrall replied, perplexed. Surely they did not expect him to fight the boy.

“A male child. Males mature to become orc-killers. They are our natural enemies. If you indeed chafed at the whip and rod, and wish for revenge on those who enslaved you and even gave you a name to mark your low position in life, then exact your revenge now. Kill this child, before he grows to be of an age to kill you.”

The boy’s eyes widened, for Iskar had been speaking in the human tongue. He squirmed frantically and muffled sounds came from his mouth. The orc who had carried him out kicked him disinterestedly in the stomach. The child curled up tightly, whimpering past the gag.

Thrall stared. Surely they were not serious. He looked over at Iskar, who regarded him without blinking.

“This is no warrior,” said Thrall. “And this is no honorable combat. I had thought that orcs prized their honor.”

“So we do,” agreed Iskar, “but before you lies a future threat. Defend your people.”

“He is a child!” Thrall exclaimed. “He is no threat now, and who can say what he will be? I know the clothes he wears, and what village he was taken from. The people there are farmers and herders. They live on what they raise, both fruit and flesh. Their weapons are for hunting coneys and deer, not orcs.”

“But there is a good chance that, if we again go to war, this boy will be in the front line, charging at one of us with a spear and calling for our blood,” Iskar retorted. “Do you wish to see Hellscream or not? If you do not slay the child, you may rest assured that you will not leave this cave alive.”


“If this child takes up arms against me in the future,” he said, choosing his words slowly and deliberately, “then I shall kill him on the battlefield. And I shall take a certain pleasure in the doing, because I will know that I am fighting for the rights of my people. But I will not kill a bound child who lies helpless before me, human though he is. And if this means I never see Hellscream, so be it. If it means I must fight all of you and fall beneath your numbers, I say again, so be it. I would rather die than commit such a dishonorable atrocity.”

He steadied himself, arms outstretched, waiting for the attack that would come. Iskar sighed.

“A pity,” he said, “but you have chosen your own destiny.” He lifted his hand.

At that moment, a terrible scream pierced the still, cool air. It echoed and reverberated through the cavern, hurting Thrall’s ears and piercing him to the bone. He shrank back from the noise. The animal skin covering one of the caves was torn down and a tall, red-eyed orc emerged. Thrall had gotten used to the appearance of his people, but this orc was unlike any he had yet seen.

Long black hair flowed down his back in a thick tangle. Each large ear was pierced several times, reminding Thrall oddly of Sergeant, and the dozen or so rings glinted in the firelight. His leather clothing of red and black contrasted strikingly with his green skin, and several chains attached to various places on his body swayed with his movements. His entire jaw seemed to be painted black, and at the moment, it was open wider than Thrall would have believed possible. It was he who was making the terrifying noise, and Thrall realized that Grom Hellscream had gotten his name for a very good reason.

The shriek faded, and Grom spoke. “Never had I thought to see this!” He marched up to Thrall and stared at him. His eyes were flame-colored, and something dark and frightening seemed to dance in their centers in place of pupils. Thrall assumed the comment to be derogatory, but he was not about to be cowed. He drew himself up to his full imposing height, determined to meet death with an unbowed head.

He opened his mouth to reply to Grom’s comment, but the orc chieftain continued.

“How is it you know of mercy, Thrall of Durnholde? How is it you know when to offer it, and for what reasons?”

The orcs were murmuring among themselves now, confused. Iskar bowed.
“Noble Hellscream,” he began, “we had thought that this child’s capture would please you. We expected —”

I would expect that its parents would track it down to our lair, you fool!” cried Grom. “We are warriors, fierce and proud. At least we once were.” He shuddered, as if from a fever, and for a moment seemed to Thrall to be pale and tired. But that impression was gone as quickly as it had come. “We do not butcher children. I assume whoever caught the whelp had the presence of mind to blindfold it?”

“Of course, lord,” said Rekshak, looking offended.

“Then take him back where you found him the same way.” Hellscream marched over to the child and removed the gag. The boy was too terrified to cry out. “Listen to me, tiny human. Tell your people that the orcs had you, and chose not to harm you. Tell them,” and he looked over at Thrall, “that they showed you mercy. Also tell them if they try to find us, they will fail. We will be on the move soon. Do you understand?”

The boy nodded. “Good.” To Rekshak, he said, “Take him back.Now. And the next time you find a human pup, leave it be.”
Durotan returning from exile to warn Orgrim Doomhammer about Gul'dan and the Shadow Council, despite just being able to live in safety with the Frostwolves. It was the honourable thing to do and cost him his life, but ultimately threw a wrench in Gul'dan's plans and drove Doomhammer to taking over the Horde, undoubtedly saving it from a worse fate.

Thrall's attack on Durnholde, in which he spared the civillians after his primary target, Blackmoore, was killed. In fact, Thrall later led an attack on Southshore where the Horde stole the human fleet in order to sail to Kalimdor, the civillians were once again spared. Thrall probably had the biggest number of honourable deeds off the top of my head, including helping the Darkspear trolls and the tauren and asking for nothing in return, and even overcoming his prejudices in order to ally with the humans and night elves in the Third War.

Rexxar too spared civillians AND the majority of Jaina's soldiers when he attacked Theramore and slew Daelin Proudmoore, honouring Jaina's request.

The whole relationship between orcs, trolls and tauren was entirely based on honour - helping one another and demanding nothing in return. Heck, even the admission of the Forsaken in the Horde was an act of honour, as the tauren held faith in them, believing they could be redeemed.

Those are just off the top of my head. I know Eitrigg is also a really good example, but my memory of "Of Blood and Honor" is bad at the moment.
Killing children.
Broadly I think for Orcs it comes down to respect and fair play, rather than sacrifice. So whilst specific examples are hard to find, the time of Orcish quests in vanilla probably matches up well with it.

The way I like to imageine it is like when most people are competing against a friend. You want to win, but you want to do it properly rather than “by any means necessary.” If you won via foul play or by making use of an unfair, external advantage, you might feel guilty (you might not) and they might feel aggrieved.

However to me, the honourable Orc would not like to win that way.
Honor is a many headed and problematic beast, meaning different things to different Orcs. Even individual Clans have different concepts of it. So it can be a difficult thing to pin down.

At the core, to an Orc, it should at least mean the following:

- Keeping your word.
-Honoring oaths made (unless betrayed).
-maintaining and abiding by a set of principles and rules, personal or collective.
-Respecting traditions, the spirits and family.
-Offer hospitality and respect it when given in return.
-Avenging any misdeed or insult leveled at them.
-Not throwing insult or threat without the intent of facing consequence or backing them up with blades.

And, most importantly... Judge others based on their honor, namely deeds and actions, rather than words.

From Orc to Orc, some will have a few more rules perhaps. Or a few less. It leaves gaps, and extras, leading to differences of opinion.

As for honorable acts?

- Prisoner exchanges in Borean tundra.
- Vol'jin honoring his oath to the horde and not joining Rastakhan and his efforts at a new empire.
- Lor'themar not killing Alleria on the spot when she visits silvermoon, instead giving her audiance and a tour.
- Naz'grim helping free pandaren slaves from the alliance.
- Thrall sparing, listening to and then aiding Sylvanas after the wrath gate, even though she could easily of 'been in on it'.
- Baine aligning himself still with Garrosh, even after the incident that killed Cairne, upholding his oath to the Horde. ("For the Horde." - as he said!)
- Saurfang aiding the adventurer against the necromancer in Borean tundra himself, when "no other help is available".

I could go on, there's plenty of examples. It's just a shame it's all too easy to mar and smear many other good deeds with bad.
03/11/2018 11:31Posted by Langsley
Are there other examples in World of Warcraft?
I should have stressed this more clearly. I meant specifically in the timeframe from vanilla WoW til now, as I think the entire setting has been distorted and twisted in a bad way over the years.

03/11/2018 12:03Posted by Theolea
Heck, even the admission of the Forsaken in the Horde was an act of honour, as the tauren held faith in them, believing they could be redeemed.


This is pretty good
Orcish 'honor' has no place in the current Horde, where everyone seemingly just wants to wipe out the Alliance races and take over the world. Why treat your enemies humanely if they're all going to be dead / enslaved to you soon anyway? You're just hindering 'progress', so you are seen as a traitor.

Edit: Wrong thread...
03/11/2018 12:10Posted by Okiba
- Naz'grim helping free pandaren slaves from the alliance


Nazgrim was a good example, I think. He valued his honor as loyalty to the Warchief even to certain death
03/11/2018 12:16Posted by Langsley
03/11/2018 12:10Posted by Okiba
- Naz'grim helping free pandaren slaves from the alliance


Nazgrim was a good example, I think. He valued his honor as loyalty to the Warchief even to certain death


Exactly, but he also had the sense and respect for his foes to know their cause was more honorable than his, and admit it as he died (for keeping his oath).

I miss living Nazgrim :(
03/11/2018 12:16Posted by Langsley
03/11/2018 12:10Posted by Okiba
- Naz'grim helping free pandaren slaves from the alliance


Nazgrim was a good example, I think. He valued his honor as loyalty to the Warchief even to certain death


Nazgrim was Loyalty and Honour incarnate, imo.
"It is your duty to aid the Horde and to defend our way of life. But it is also your duty to know when quarter and compassion should be given to friend and foe alike.

Understand this well. This is the new Horde, not some demon-spawned army who lack freewill."


- Warchief Thrall

I always imagined Orcish honour works a bit like either Bushido, or the Yautja honour code. I think it roughly goes:

1. If your foe has a weapon, and means you harm, slay and destroy them utterly.
2. If your foe is unarmed, yields, is sick, young, elderly, a captive, or otherwises poses no threat as an enemy, spare them and show mercy. There is no honour in slaying a foe that cannot fight back.
3. The greatest glory is to die in battle, the greatest dishonour is to be captured, to surrender, or to lose yourself to mindless bloodlust.

Feel free to point out if I'm wrong.
It's undeniable that the concept of honour is in and of itself a very vague and possibly even subjective notion. Not even keeping into account the many different kind of orcish clans who may well each have completely different values and definitions of honour, having different backgrounds on a personal level can result in different definitions of being upright, noble or honorable as well.

That, in my opinion, is where the concept of honour with Warcraft's orcs often threatens to fall flat. Nowhere has there ever been a precise definition of the concept within Warcraft's universe, or any manner of codified "laws", in a manner of speaking. This results in players often butting heads in what actually -is- honorable ("Fite me!" -"No, I won't fight you because you're beneath me." "Then you're a coward and you have no honour!" -"No, you have no honour because you don't carry yourself with dignity and are not worth fighting.", etc., etc.) and making up their own head canon to roll with it. And I can't even blame people for doing the latter. Heck, I'm guilty of it myself, as my guild has a very defined set of guidelines on what is (and just as importantly, isn't) perceived as honorable within that particular clan. It helps clear up a lot of things and even prevents honour as a concept risk being undermined because of its overly flexible state.

That is where I feel part of the problem lies with Blizzard's approach to Saurfang's current arc as well. They have never properly defined what's honorable, so people - understandably - get themselves in a twist over his approach. Is it honorable to lay down your arms when your Warchief isn't acting according to your (personal) definition of honour? Is it more honorable to challenge her to Mak'gora head on or is she beneath such a concept due to her own nature? Is it honorable to go out and face the Alliance army by yourself to meet a "worthy death", or is it dishonorable due to deserting your brothers in arms? And so on and so forth.

The way how he's been behaving leading up to all these events hasn't really helped either. On the one hand, he attacked Malfurion from behind and then instantly regretted it (you're telling me an orc like him wouldn't have known how "dishonorable" that is before he did that, even out of instinct?), yet on the very same day he showed honour by telling the civilians of Lor'danel to evacuate in advance of the Horde's assault. It's all just a big, confusing mess and I'd primarily chalk it down to the writing. Honour -can- be a perfectly viable concept to apply to a society, and has been done so time and time again in the real world throughout history as well. But it needs to be clear what is (and isn't) expected according to its ideals. With every warrior of the Horde carrying his own principles and ideals, clashes are bound to happen.

Having said that though, I do believe there are some (though, perhaps arguably, not enough) instances of the Horde having shown honour within WoW's time frame. Some good examples have been shown above already, but the aforementioned Saurfang evacuating Lor'danel is a very recent one. A great many though, as mentioned, (and perhaps too many in favour of being shown in-game) are shown in the books. Primarily by Thrall. Thrall was the prime example for re-imagining the orcish race in Warcraft, but it sadly hasn't shined through enough in Blizzard's storytelling that anyone beyond Thrall actually actively upheld those ideals either. So if nothing else, we can hope that Blizzard's ongoing discourse with Saurfang will be a similar attempt to define the Horde and its "noble ideals" once more. One can dream, right?

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